Wow! It’s almost a week until Christmas! How did that happen? The days have literally evaporated into thin air… Every year, I have all of these grand ideas on how we are going to celebrate Advent, what activities we’ll do, things we’ll make, etc etc etc. And then reality catches up with me, and it’s Dec 17th. So, a brief look back at what we did, or didn’t do, for Advent this year.
Things we did, or – let’s be honest here – attempted during Advent:
Jesse Tree Ornaments: I picked up this set of color-your-own Jesse Tree ornaments awhile back. At the time, I thought, “Oh, the kids will LOVE this! They love coloring!” The idea is to color an ornament for each day of advent and hang it up on the tree. It was a total bust. I think we did 5 or 6, and the rest got pulled out of the advent calendar by Patrick, and strewn across the house. No one seemed sad to see this activity die. Maybe when the kids are older, perhaps?
Advent Wreath: This is actually a tradition that we have kept going! The kids love fire, basically, and the fact that we have fire ON THE TABLE makes everything so much more fun. Of course, now we have obligatory arguments every evening about which child will get to blow out the candles after dinner.
Miniature Nativity ornaments: I picked up this cute set of nativity ornaments at a kitchen shop called Stock, here in Dublin. Again, the idea with this is to hang one ornament up for each day of advent. The only problem is that I keep our Advent calendar within the kids’ reach. Patrick has loved taking the ornaments out of the calendar, rearranging them, giving them rides on his trucks, etc. Not one has made it to the tree so far, but they have made an appearance at the Lego nativity.
Keeping Baby Jesus in the Advent Calendar until Christmas: We have been successful at this idea…kinda. Baby Jesus eventually makes his way back to the Advent calendar every night, but the kids are always pulling him out again. In addition to the Nativity ornaments, we have a larger Holy Family Nativity set from Fontanini. I would love to add to this set, but finding them here is hard. They are unbreakable and indestructible, so I really don’t mind that the kids play with them. They are supposed to keep Baby Jesus in the Advent Calendar until Dec 25, when they can place him in the manger. Of course, in our house, Mary and Joseph are moved around from day to day. In fairness, Isaac and Liesl like to pretend that Mary and Joseph are on their way to Bethlehem. Patrick just enjoys hiding them on the radiator.
Advent-themed bedtime reading. We have been reading the 24 Christmas Stories for Little Ones. This is our second year to read this book, and the kids really enjoyed it. I like that it is one book (less stuff to keep up with) and has stories that appeal to a wide age group.
Things we don’t do during Advent:
Elf on the Shelf. I’m terrible at things where I have to sneak around after the kids go to bed. I barely remember the tooth fairy! I am not particularly creative, so coming up with creative things for Elfie or Twinkle to do would just add more stress. It is a cute idea, and I know tons of families that really enjoy it, but Elf on the Shelf would be a total disaster at our house.
Unwrap a Christmas Book each day. Again – sounds fun, but I can just see myself running around looking for wrapping paper at 7:00 am, or just putting the book in a garbage sack with a bow on it.
Family activity Advent calendar. I have seen a couple of ideas for this, and they look fun. I actually think it would be great to do something one of these January or February, which are particularly dark, cold months here. It would be nice to break up the monotony.
Irish Christmas Fun:
Since we are staying in Dublin for Christmas this year, we have also added some Irish Christmas activities.
We have been to see Santa and the reindeer at Powerscourt Estate. Avoca, an Anthropologie-like store here in Ireland has a great Santa, plus a small petting zoo where you can see reindeer and other animals.
Last weekend, we rode on the Santa Train from Railway Preservation Society of Ireland. Carolers, mulled wine, Guinness, and Santa – all aboard a restored steam engine train!
This weekend, the kids are in a Nativity Play for a nursing home, which should promise to be filled with chaotic hilarity. We may also venture down to see the Gingerbread House at the Four Seasons, the Christmas Market at St. Stephen’s Green, or the celebrations at Phoenix Park, depending on our interests.
So, there it is. Advent at our house. It’s not Pinterest-worthy, but it is loads of fun.